It’s the tax year end and fraudsters are lying in wait to trick unwary investors out of their cash, a financial consumer watchdog is warning.
The tax year ends on April 5, and this is the traditional time for scammers to redouble their efforts to grab money from investors looking for ways to increase their returns.
Action Fraud, the UK’s online platform for reporting scams to the police has revealed consumers complained of losing £197 million to fraudsters plugging dodgy investments in the past year.
Victims of investment cons lost an average £29,000 each.
The most common scams involved shares and bonds, forex and cryptocurrencies and tax year-end scams, with regulator the Financial Conduct Authority warning tax year end was ‘peak season’ for scammers.
Beware bogus social media advisers
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at FCA, said: “The first quarter of the year is a common time for people to make their financial plans for the year, including investments.
“Before you invest, do your homework. Always check the FCA’s register to make sure you’re dealing with an authorised firm and use the contact details on our register, not the details the firm gives you, to avoid clones posing as the real thing.
“Also check the FCA warning list of firms to avoid. Remember, if in any doubt – don’t invest.”
The FCA says scammers are moving away from cold calling potential victims and are more likely to contact investors through social media or email – evidenced by 54% of callers to the FCA helpline confirming they had been approached this way.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “These statistics show that investment fraud is a major threat, with fraudsters doing everything they can to manipulate potential victims into making investments. Victims are often coerced or persuaded into parting with significant amounts of money and this can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing and finances.
“We are working with the FCA to raise awareness of investment fraud and would urge anyone who is considering in investing to check with the FCA before parting with their money.
“If you think you have been a victim of investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud.”